Home Care Overview

Essential Functions of the health care facility and the differences between acute, long-term, assisted living, home care, and hospice.

Acute care is a branch of secondary health care where a patient receives active but short-term treatment for a severe injury or episode of illness, an urgent medical condition, or during recovery from surgery. In medical terms, care for acute health conditions is the opposite of chronic care or longer-term care.

Long term care refers to a continuum of medical and social services designed to support the needs of people living with chronic health problems that affect their ability to perform everyday activities. Long term care services include traditional medical services, social services, and housing.

Assisted living is a system of housing and limited care that is designed for senior citizens who need some assistance with daily activities but do not require care in a nursing home.

Home care, (also referred to as domiciliary care, social care, or in-home care), is supportive care provided in the home.

Rehabilitation: The process of helping a person who has suffered an illness or injury restore lost skills and so regain maximum self-sufficiency. For example, rehabilitation work after a stroke may help the patient walk and speak clearly again.

Hospice Care: Care designed to give supportive care to people in the final phase of a terminal illness and focus on comfort and quality of life, rather than cure.

Home Care

Home care is becoming an increasingly viable and attractive alternative to facility-based long-term care (nursing homes and assisted living), and it is only expected to grow in popularity as baby boomers age. Home care covers a wide range of services for individuals who require ongoing healthcare and assistance with the activities of daily living. When family and friends cannot provide adequate support, home care allows people to receive the care they need to remain in their homes.

The individuals who receive home care may be elderly, disabled, terminally or chronically ill, or they may be recovering from surgery. While the majority of individuals receiving home care are over the age of 65, home care consumers may be any age, beginning with infants who may need ventilators or other care in order to live at home. Home care agencies deliver services through physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers, home health and personal care aides, and volunteers.

Home care may include health-related services such as injections, intravenous therapy, and wound care. It may include assistance with personal care, such as getting in and out of bed, walking or mobility, bathing, using the toilet, and dressing, and it may also include assistance with household tasks, such as laundry, meal preparation, general housekeeping, and shopping.

Home care services may be paid for by an individual or family member, by health insurance companies, managed care organizations, the Veteran’s Administration, community organizations, Social Services Block Grants, Medicare, Medicaid, and other sources.

Most states license home care agencies, but licensure requirements vary widely from state to state. Forty-four states, including Colorado, require a license for agencies that provide home health services (e.g., medication administration, injections, intravenous therapy, and wound care), and 30 states, including Colorado, additionally require a license for agencies that provide personal care services. In order to receive funds from Medicare and Medicaid, home care agencies must meet minimum federal standards.

Colorado licenses two types of home care agencies

Class A and Class B. Only Class A agencies may provide home health services.

Both Class A and Class B agencies provide assistance with personal care, medication reminders, companionship, and homemaking services.